Mapping: Software and Services
The more you "get into" mapping and placing GPS tracks and points of interest on maps the more you realize how complicated it can be. Many online services use Google Maps as a base. If Google Maps is taken down, ALL of these services and websites that depend on them will be "out of business". I have almost given up on using Google Maps itself as they keep changing the way they display maps but will not add some of the most requested features. Google will allow you to use their API for non-commercial sites but it can take along time to do just what you want. I will try on this page to discuss and illustrate some options that I have used.
Google Maps API
The map below is one that I produced using the Goggle Maps API. The map is interactive and the features are explain on the page. It shows some Catskill trails and gives information on the Catskill 35 peaks. I was very eager to learn how to manipulate the maps and my data and worked hard on it for a long time. As I grew less excited and my interest waned, I stopped using the API. At this point I am afraid I remembered little of what I did and how I did it.
My preferred online service at the current time is GPSies, a site based in Germany that uses Google Maps as a base. They have a larger and dedicated user base and you can find maps for many different activities around the globe. My only complaint is that they have a few people who like to post a GPS track of their walk around the block! Here is a map that illustrates the service.
Alltrails has been purchased by National Geographic but not much has changed on the site. After you upload a GPX file, the site creates a nice, clean map of the route. Of course, it saves all your routes in your account. The site also allows you to review trails and to find trails given certain criteria. It will also recommend trails that you might like and these can be filtered by categories. You can also upload photographs that you took while hiking.
MapMyHike is another site that allows you to create a free account and upload GPS tracks and pictures. One feature of this site is the 3D flyover view which follows the GPS track. This requires that you install the Google Earth plug-in for your browser which can be a problem! It really allowed me to relive the hike. The site posts stats about the hike and has a rating system. It also keeps track of how many miles you have hiked in a week and overall
quikmaps is another site that allows you to create a free account but this site allows you to draw a freehand map on a Google Map. The best part is that it will then convert that map to a GPX file that can be downloaded to your computer.
GMap4 (Mapping Support))GMap4 displays enhanced Google Maps and maps from MyTopo and adds several handy menus and many great options for viewing. It displays GPS tracks in several different formats but the files must be "hosted" somewhere on the web. All you have to do is type in the URL of the location of the map and some URL parameters.
ACME Mapper 2.0ACME Mapper 2.0 is a high-precision general purpose mapping application, based on Google Maps with a several added features. It does not display GPS tracks but does a nice job of finding and displaying locations.
CalTopoCalTopo supports many of the features provided by desktop topo software, but because it's online, you can view your data from anywhere and share it with anyone. It also adds a lot of new features to the mix, like layer blending, slope shading and historical maps.